Wednesday, July 29, 2009


My friend Bridget had to skip town for a family emergency, so she loaded me up with all the tomatoes and eggs I could carry. The tomatoes were really ripe, so our usual M.O. of adding sliced tomato to lunch and dinner was not going to use them fast enough. I synthesized all the marinara recipe information I could glean from Serious Eats into one recipe (which I share after the jump). Then I used the remaining tomatoes - mostly gorgeous yellow tomatoes - to make a salsa based on the recipe for salsa fresca in Mexican Light by Martha Rose Shulman.
The following marinara recipe (well, according to Mario Batali, it's not a true marinara, but its texture is closer to a marinara than a tomato sauce, which is thicker, less chunky, and cooked longer) is a hybrid of Mario Batali’s Basic Tomato Sauce, a marinara sauce recipe adapted from Lidia Bastianich's Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, and comments about marinara sauce from the readers of Serious Eats.

Marinara Sauce


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large or 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (this makes a fairly spicy sauce)
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 3 pounds ripe fresh plum tomatoes, or one 35 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
  • Salt
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano


1. Heat the oil in a 2- to 3-quart nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion. When the onions are about halfway done (about 5 minutes) add the garlic.

2. Add the thyme, crushed red pepper, and carrot; cook 5 minutes more.

3. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to just bubbling, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes. Break up tomatoes with a whisk or spoon, until sauce is chunky and thick

4. Stir in the basil and oregano about 5 minutes before sauce is finished. Taste sauce, and season with salt and red pepper if necessary. Serve immediately or set aside for further use. The sauce may be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


We finally got rid of the horrible sponge paint in the spare bedroom. Bob and I spent the weekend cleaning, taping, priming and painting. But, it was worth it. I'm so glad to have a new room.

Update on the use of 20 pounds of peaches below.

I made individual hand pies for the neighborhood party. This was insane. They were tasty, but it was way too much work.

Most of the peaches were used for peach jam and for spiced peaches. I want to make more spiced peaches - they are very tasty with vanilla ice cream.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Food, Inc

We went to see Food, Inc. yesterday. In fact, we went to a Whole Foods sponsored viewing of the movie (we did pay for the movie) which included a panel discussion following the movie, free samples from Whole Foods and a wine tasting plus food from Whole Foods. Overall, the movie was as I expected - it took a lot of information from The Omnivores Dilemma (and presumably Fast Food Nation but I haven't read that yet.) It was fairly graphic in its presentation of slaughter houses so if you weren't a vegetarian before, you might consider being one now. Poor animals. The biggest impact that it made on me is that I'm not sure I can eat at a restaurant any more.

I was a bit disappointed that they didn't get any of the major corporations to comment on the content. Nor did they talk to anyone with a different perspective than 'the corporations are evil and they are making us sick.' I do believe that like most other large corporations, the focus is on generating the biggest profit and that the choices made are to maximize profit with minimizing risk. But, that means that there is some risk and when you are talking about food, that risk can be deadly. I also wish that the movie had more information from government authorities on their take on the situation. Why is the FDA so impotent? What is being done to change this? Is there any move to have oversight of agriculture corporations? One thing that is misleading is that the movie doesn't discuss the fact that most of the soybeans grown in the country are used for animal feed, not for people food.

The panel discussion was interesting (if too short) and included many local people:
Particia Stansbury (Epic Gardens)
Mark "Coach" Smallwood (Local Forager for Whole Foods)
Lisa Taranto (Tricycle Gardens)
Sally Norton (Nutritionist from VCU)
Jonah Fogel (Virginia Cooperative Extension Service)
Lisa Dearden (Center for Rural Culture)
Ellen Frackleton (Agriberry)

Coach was a low impact farmer and was recruited by Whole Foods to source local, responsibly grown food and meat for stores in the mid Atlantic region. I would have liked to have heard more from him. He was definitely a great choice as a spokesperson representing Whole Foods. All of the panel was in favor of supporting local farmers. The basic take home message was if you don't talk to the person making your food, you don't know what went into creating it. Even when things are labeled organic, the animals may not be treated the way you would think. Any food that is mass produced is typically pooled from many suppliers which always raises the risk of food safety. Also, everyone on the panel felt like there needs to be more government involvement in stepping up safety regulations and policing these large corporations.

I left the moving feeling fortunate that I have the money and time and availability of good food, that I can choose to know the farmers where my food comes from. I can cook most of our meals from scratch and I can make informed decisions about what we eat. Most of the country does not have this choice or the means to make this choice. I feel like I should come up with a way to use some mathematical modeling to explore risk/cost/safety issues...

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Veggie Hunter


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The hunter came home victorious; the whole village will feast tonight!

More of the bounty available at the link below.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

From cocktails

This is the product of the Mystery Photo Entertainment posted earlier. It's cucumber-infused vodka, which, it turns out, is ridiculously easy. (I followed the instructions here.) And it tastes awesome.